The Pastor: A Spirituality by Gordon W. Lathrop (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2006 – US$20).
I’ve read many books on the business of being a priest, but this one stands out because it focusses on the spirituality of priesthood.
It’s a moving and deeply perceptive book. I’ve long known of Lathrop as an excellent writer on liturgy, and here he brings wisdom to the issue of being a priest in the assembly.
It is so easy to think of priesthood as a kind of private gift to the one ordained. Lathrop reminds us that our task as priest or pastor arises out of the nature of the church as a liturgical assembly.
He takes as a model the bishop in Justin Martyr’s account of early church worship. There the bishop/pastor is the one who gathers the assembly, breaks open the Word, enables the meal fellowship of the community, and oversees the extension of that to include the care for the poor.
The first part of the book explores these four facets of the priest/pastor’s role in the community of faith. The second part looks at this spirituality from the other side, so to speak, as he reflects on our need to be nourished from the same story and table.
A wonderful little book to be read and re-read throughout one’s ministry.
Ken Booth is Precentor of ChristChurch Cathedral. firstname.lastname@example.org.